All called to sainthood, all called to love

I walk in and find myself immediately flooded with many tasks to do.

While people come over to say hello and give hugs, I'm given instructions for the day. Before I can start any of these tasks, I have an unhappy customer complaining about this or that and two people waiting to receive food and clothing assistance. This might seem like a mad house, but it's really just another day at Samaritan House, a thrift store and emergency food bank our sisters assist at in Downtown Steubenville.

After meeting with a client in need of food and clothing, I soon find out they can't find much of what they are looking for in the way of clothes. I make up a list of their needs and decide to run downstairs where we have a bit of an "overflow" supply. As soon as I step our of the door, another client is awaiting clothing assistance. Asking him to please wait, I ask one of our volunteers to fill out the food order for the first client while I run downstairs to find clothing. It's been a few years since she's done an order, so we decide to do it together. When I come back upstairs, there are more people asking for food and clothing assistance and people wanting to know if we help with this, that or the other. The other sister I'm working with comes to the rescue and helps some of the people needing assistance. I hear glass shatter behind me. The first client says none of the clothes I brought up would work and they will come back another day. I desperately seek out the shattered glass being told by 3 people they heard it shatter from 3 different spots. As I was searching for the glass, I realized the clothing I brought up needed to go back downstairs. Once finding the glass nestled between some boxes on the floor, I begin to do clean up. As soon as I begin, I receive a phone call. When 3:00 hit (the time we usually pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet), I found myself in the middle of a clothing order, needing to take clients downstairs for their needs, finding no rest even at that time. I was starting to wonder -- is this what a mother of many young children feels like?

With so many tasks to be done and not enough time to do it. Never have I wanted to receive the gift of bilocation so badly. Being overwhelmed on days like this is an understatement.

The rest of my day continued in a similar fashion with many people needing assistance and only two of us to meet the many demands of the day. Before I knew it, my 2 1/2 hour shift was over and it was time to clean up and go home. Our usual clean-up crew however went home early, leaving Sr. Maria Clare and me to fend for ourselves, taking us twice as long as normal.

On days like this I can't help but wonder, "Lord, did I really make a difference today? Did I really build up Your kingdom today, feeling very overwhelmed and running around like a mad woman attempting to give everyone the love and attention they need while still getting my work done? Is sweeping up shattered glass and sorting through clothes really sanctifying myself and others?" 

The Lord gave me a very beautiful word for the beginning of this year -- that faithfulness to the little things we do in life is our path to sanctification.

When we change diapers, hold our tongue with the co-worker who rubs us the wrong way, love our spouse and children in the midst of a hectic day, study for an exam, or do dishes for our parents, we are showing the love of Christ.

I realized on this day that being with the clients who come in won't solve their problems. They will still be poor, still be hungry, still be sick. Mopping the floor isn't exactly bringing about world peace, but little acts done with great love does build up the body of  Christ in a mystical fashion we will never fully grasp on this side of Heaven. The smile from the high-schooler who had been living in a bad situation for months; the relief of a mother to have food for a few weeks for her children; the love and attention received when answering a question for someone; the grandmother whose eyes fill with tears because she knows her granddaughter will have adequate clothing; none of these are earth shattering! They are all the product of simple acts done with love.

At the end of this very hard and trying day, I read a letter from one of the clients at Samaritan House ensuring us of her love for us and calling us "angels sent from God". I don't know about being angelic, but we can all be saints when we live a life of faithfulness to our vocation. No matter how monotonous, trying or difficult our daily tasks may be, we are all called to sainthood. We are all called to love.

"Jesus said love one another. He didn't say love the whole world. If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one... Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person... Intense love does not measure; it just gives. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."  -St. Teresa of Calcutta

                                                                                                                       -Sr. Chiara Joan, novice

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